A bulletproof or bullet-resistant door is a great way to protect a home. After all, a door is the primary point of entrance, and a critical aspect of home security at every level. Alarms and camera systems may help to solve a crime after the fact, but a door can help to prevent certain intrusions altogether, before anything happens. Many people rest easier knowing that their home or business is protected by bulletproof doors.
How to Decide if a Bulletproof Door is Right for You
When choosing a bullet-resistant door, the first thing you need to do is define your threat level. Most security experts recommend first defining the scenario you are defending against, and then planning accordingly. There are many levels of bullet resistance, and the higher levels can be extremely expensive, so it’s important to plan for your most likely threat scenario.
Bulletproof vs. Bullet Resistant Vs. Ballistic
These three terms get used a lot, and it can be confusing to determine when the term is appropriate or what each of them mean. For a quick summary, almost nothing is truly bullet “proof;” at the right range, with the right weapon, and with enough shots, almost all materials will give way to gunshots over time. We use the term “bulletproof,” but the more accurate term is “bullet resistant.” Bullet resistant materials are tested and proven to stop certain bullets under certain conditions.
Ballistic, on the other hand, simply refers to a material that is able to stop projectiles. Ballistic is sometimes used when people are referring not simply to shots and bullets, but to a material’s ability to resist all kinds of projectiles, including material thrown during a blast. While “bulletproof” and “ballistic” are commonly used terms, the most accurate term is bullet resistant.
Doors are given a bulletproof rating defined by the UL organization. Their testing methods are rigorous, and include factors like firing distance, shot patterns, number of shots, bullet caliber, etc. The UL bulletproof ratings system is as follows:
Bulletproof doors can also be rated for blast as well as bullet resistance, since the two forms of impact are so different. These ratings are a useful standard, but every scenario is different, and ratings aren’t meant to be a guarantee.
Most bulletproof doors intended for residential use are rated 1-3. Ratings 1-5 are often used in commercial or industrial settings where security is crucial, while the highest ratings are almost always used in military, government, and law enforcement settings.
Types of Bulletproof Doors
Most common residential doors, even those made of solid wood, will not stop a bullet. Different species of wood have different densities, and therefore different levels of bullet resistance, but a solid wood panel would need to be 2-3 inches thick to offer protection from bullets.
Instead, most bulletproof doors are multi-layered, taking advantage of several different materials to achieve their UL rating.
Most bulletproof doors are made of metal. The most popular materials are:
Steel is an incredibly strong material, and extremely popular in bulletproof doors. It takes only ¼ to ½ inch of steel to stop a bullet.
Aluminum is popular because it is lighter weight than steel, and can reduce weight on a bulletproof door when used with other materials. It typically takes 3/8 of an inch or less of aluminum to stop a bullet.
Bulletproof doors have many different types of cores, depending on the needed rating and the manufacturer. Some core materials and structures are proprietary, but some of the most common bulletproof door core materials are:
When combined with a metal exterior, the dense fibers of wood have good bullet resistant properties. Wood absorbs and dissipates the shock of impacts and is a common material in bulletproof and ballistic doors.
The honeycomb shape is strong and lightweight, and a popular insulator indoors. Honeycomb can be made of a variety of materials with differing degrees of bullet or ballistic resistance.
Polystyrene and other polymers
Many modern polymers are strong, lightweight, and bullet resistant. Transparent polymers are often used in bullet resistant glass, while opaque ones can be used in the cores of ballistic security doors.
Bullet-resistant fiberglass is a very popular material in security applications. It is lightweight and affordable, and comes in thicknesses for every UL rating. It comes in panels that are easily installed inside doors, walls, counters, or other places where security is needed.
Many bulletproof and bullet resistant doors have windows in them, just like many normal doors do. Of course, these windows are often made of acrylic or other bullet resistant materials.
Many bulletproof and bullet resistant doors have high-quality outer layers to make them more visually attractive. Bulletproof doors may have wood veneer, brass fittings, and other attractive details
Remember that it isn’t just the door itself that needs to resist bullets. Some doors have natural weak points, like windows, hinges, door frames, or locks, that remain vulnerable even when the door itself is hardened. It doesn’t make much sense to invest in a bulletproof door without ensuring that the hardware and attachments are also secure. Many bulletproof doors are sold complete with frames, hinges, and everything you need for a secure entrance.
While bulletproof doors can cost many thousands of dollars, and may be out of reach for the standard homeowner, bulletproof panels made of fiberglass or Kevlar are, while expensive, certainly more affordable. Many homeowners on a budget opt to create a safe room rather than attempting to secure the entire home.